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From today, talk free cell to cell

Both Hutch and Airtel have freed users from incoming, cell-to-cell call charges from Friday. Post-paid subscribers will, however, have to pay a monthly fee of Rs 49 for ‘free’ incoming calls.

Incoming calls from fixed lines will be charged, but at a lower rate. Tinkering with the tariff structure on Thursday, cell operators announced that incoming rates for pre-paid customers have been slashed to Rs 1.50 from the existing Rs 2.25 per minute. Charges on outgoing calls remain at Rs 2.25 per minute. Free incoming calls — across the board — are expected next week, assured both service providers.

The processing fee for Rs 300, Rs 350 and Rs 650 cash-cards has been increased (from Rs 120 to Rs 150; Rs 70 to Rs 120; Rs 145 to Rs 200, respectively). But that for Rs 1,200 and Rs 2,000 pre-paid cards has been reduced from Rs 220 to Rs 200, and from Rs 300 to Rs 200, respectively.

The cell operators have changed the tariff structure for two entry-level plans. Though rentals remain the same, outgoing calls will be charged at Rs 2.50 (now Rs 4) per minute for Airtel’s Starter Plan and Hutch’s Talk 299. Incoming rates (non-cell calls) have dropped from Rs 2 to Rs 1.50, in both categories.

“The new tariff and free cell-to-cell incoming calls will help us expand the market,” said Sunil Sood, chief operating officer of Hutchison Telecom East Limited.

For Airtel’s Wonder Plan and Hutch Talk More subscribers, tariffs have been reduced from a flat rate of Rs 1.95 to Rs 1.75 for both incoming (again, non-cell calls) and outgoing calls. Incoming and outgoing calls will be charged at Re 1 from 8 pm to 8 am. Tariffs for other plans remain unchanged.

“The market has been growing at 20-25 per cent for the past few months. With the new structure, we expect a growth of around 40-50 per cent a month,” concluded Deepak Gulati, chief executive officer, Bharti Mobitel.

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